Friday, February 17, 2006
So, at the risk of beating a dead one trick pony, I turn yet again to that never-ending gob stopper of blogdom, the Danish Cartoon Crisis, and offer potentially life-saving advice to scared and confused bloggers in a long overdue post called:
Blogging for Dhimmies
The first and foremost rule of Blogging for Dhimmies is: If you have to ask, cover your ass. This one rule alone could someday save your life.
Let's say you're a dhimmie blogger, but you still remember the old days, before the sensitivity training and the fatwas. You decide to get tricky and merely IMPLY that a given graven character is the Prophet. Say for instance you show a picture of a man with a young girl, and you label the girl with the name Aisha, without explicitly naming the other character at all. It would be tempting to think you could get away with that. But please, for the love of God, use your head while you still have it. Remember rule one. And while it is marginally more clever to explicitly label the prophet-ish image "Definitely Not the Prophet," the conjunction with the conjugal Aisha means your sarcasm will not be overlooked.
With that said, let's look at some common questions Dhimmie Bloggers are likely to struggle with as they adjust to their new leash length.
1. Is the problem in the drawing of the Prophet, or in being offensive about it?
The answer here is BOTH. Bear in mind the main rule of dhimmie blogging: if you have to ask, cover your ass. In this case, obviously an offensive image of the Prophet would invoke the Ummah's wrath and lead to the destruction of the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet closest to your home, but even a seemingly innocuous image of the Prophet -- innocuous to your eyes -- is an affront to the Universal Principles of Religion shared by all people who wish not to be killed: do not draw, reprint, reproduce or otherwise retransmit an image of the Prophet without the express written consent of the Commissioner of Baseball, or something like that.
But the question really is a good one, because it goes beyond that. Not only must we avoid offensive images of the Prophet, we must avoid offensive expressions or images about the Prophet, or offensive images about the prohibition of publishing images of the Prophet, or saying anything about those who protest offensive images about them. (Here would be a good point to intone the main rule perhaps three or four times until it sinks in.)
2. What about images of other prophets?
Too risky, unless it's Joseph Smith or Tom Cruise, since they came after Mohammad officially declared propecy season closed. But images of Jesus and Moses and others of their ilk, you shouldn't even have to ask.
3. How do the faithful decide which images are of the Prophet and thus deserving of death?
I understand your concern, since presumably even the faithful have never met the Prophet, and it's inconceivable there would be any Muslim-made images of him lying around for comparison. So the decision can't be based on resemblence. You're right. It's based on intent, declaration, and of course convenient timing.
Drawing a picture intentionally creating the impression it is Muhammad, through context or ridicule -- especially ridicule -- is a very bad idea, unless your family really needs your life insurance money. Similarly, declaring an image to be the Prophet, no matter the resemblence, will only bring you headaches. Even if you've just drawn a frog, which you might think would be ridiculous to believe was really the Prophet. It is precisely that ridiculousness that is the problem. If it looks like the Prophet, you risk promoting worship of your image. And if it doesn't look like him, it could provoke mockery of the Prophet through your image.
But even if you've done your best to avoid the first two issues, there is the overriding factor: timing and political convenience. If "the street" hasn't been taken out for a walk in a few weeks and is growing restless, your picture of a bowl of fruit, if published at the wrong moment, could end up triggering mass riots, if they are convenient. It's all a matter of timing. If you want to draw something, or allow your children to color, it is best to do this an intermediate amount of time after the last riots. Too soon after and you risk inflaming the still angry crowd. Wait too long, and you could be the next convenient contestant on Let's Make a Big Deal.
4. What if I just add a disclaimer to every image?
Do you really think adding some fine print is going to soothe seething righteous anger? Please do not be naive. Sure, you could add a footnote: "no one in this picture is named Mohammad, and if they are, it's a different Muhammad, not THAT Muhammad." But the protest patrols are highly trained at sniffing out questionable intent, or even irrelevant irreverence. You don't want them wondering what you're hiding when theythinks thou dost protest too much.
5. What if I want to draw a teeny tiny dot -- could that accidentally be mistaken for an image of the top of the Prophet's head viewed from outer space?
Yes. So be careful.
6. How can I be careful? If even a dot could be the Prophet's distant head, every sentence I write ends with punctuational blasphemy that could get me killed!
You are overreacting. There are many solutions to your concerns; no one is being unreasonable here.
The most obvious thing you could do to avoid the risks inherent in periods is to end every sentence from now on with a comma, like this, which unfortunately will lead to a lot of runon sentences, but that shouldn't be too high a price to pay to avoid offending anyone, and if you really need to terminate a respectful but overlong string of commas you can always ask a question, can't you?
Of course, there are other ways.
A meritorious practice is to make a declaration of intent with the termination of each sentence. Say to yourself, "I hereby complete this sentence with the intention that this dot is not an image of the Prophet, and as compensation for the potential sin of this sentence, I further commit myself to make a donation to Hamas or Islamic Jihad." As long as you save your receipts for each sentence's donation, you might be able to talk your way out of trouble should the mob ever show up at your door.
(UPDATE: commenters James and Regina Clare Jane have correctly pointed out that question marks, and exclamation marks as well, carry with them the same blasphemous potential as periods. So please, use em-dashes instead -- or better yet, stick to the charitable method.)
7. Seriously, do I need to be afraid that every Muslim will react this way?
No, equally seriously, obviously not. Most Muslims, while they would prefer you not do this, and may even be annoyed a little by this very satire, are quite reasonable and will just talk to you about what bothers them, just as you or I would. But politicizing forces looking to leverage these and other complaints to organize one billion Muslims into a potent weapon for the advancement of their interests against freedom and the West are something else entirely. Those forces grow stronger the more we cower.
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